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Chapter 11 - The Arizona Driver License
Driving is a Privilege, Not a Right!
Driving is a privilege, granted and revocable by the State at any time.
Driving is a privilege, granted and revocable by the State at any time. It is a common misconception that driving in the State of Arizona is your "right," but in reality, it is a privilege to drive in this state because you must meet prescribed criteria to be licensed. The Motor Vehicle Division has been empowered by the state to oversee all licensing of motor vehicles and drivers. They control applications, suspensions, revocations, and probations of licenses. You must have a driver license issued by the Motor Vehicle Division to drive on any public road, street, or highway, and the license must be correct for the class of vehicle driven.
If you are a nonresident and any of the following apply, ARS § 28-2001, 28-2153, 28-3152 and 28-3169 require that you obtain an Arizona driver license and registration immediately:
- If you work in Arizona (other than for seasonal agricultural work).
- If you have children in school without paying the nonresident tuition rate.
- If you have a business with an office in Arizona, and it operates vehicles in Arizona.
- If you obtain an Arizona State license.
- If you have a business that operates vehicles to transport goods or people within Arizona.
- If you remain in Arizona for a total of seven months or more during any one calendar year, regardless of where your permanent residence is. Note: If you are an out-of-state student enrolled with 7 or more semester hours, you will not be considered a resident, even if employed.
- You may work in the State of Arizona for up to 90 days without obtaining an Arizona drivers license, as long as the following are met:
- Your principal residence is in another state or country.
- You have a valid license from another state or country.
- You operate a vehicle that needs a Class D driver license.
- You are an employee, agent, or consultant of an organization which operates in Arizona and at least one other state or country.
Types of Licenses
A) Instruction Permit - You may be issued an instruction permit for a Class D or a Class G graduated license at the age of 15 years and 6 months. You must be accompanied by a Class A, B, C, or D license driver who is seated in the passenger seat. You may also be issued an instruction permit for a Class M motorcycle license at 15 years and 6 months of age. At the age of 16 you may apply for a driver license, and you do not need to wait for the permit to expire. The graduated permit is valid for 12 months from the date it was issued. With a motorcycle permit, you are prohibited from operating a motorcycle on freeways or interstate highways. You are also not allowed to drive between sunset and sunrise, or anytime when there is not enough light to see clearly at least 500 feet ahead. A motorcycle permit is valid for six months from the date it was issued.
B) Graduated License (Class G) - A graduated license is issued to you if you are between the ages of 16 and 18. This license permits you to operate any vehicle that is not a motorcycle or that requires a Commercial License. To qualify for a Class G license, you must successfully pass a MVD-approved driver education program, or your parent or guardian must certify in writing that you have completed at least 25 hours of supervised driving practice, including at least five hours of night driving.
C) Operator License (Class D) - This license allows you to operate any vehicle that is not a motorcycle or does not require a Commercial License. You must be at least 18 years of age to qualify for an Operator License.
D) Motorcycle License (Class M) - This license is required to operate a motorcycle or any motor-driven cycle. You must be at least 16 years of age to qualify for a Class M license.
E) Commercial License (Class A, B, and C) - A commercial license is required for driving vehicles 26,001 pounds or more, vehicles capable of carrying 16 or more passengers, or vehicles that transport hazardous materials. To be eligible for a commercial license, you must be at least 21 years of age.
Things You Will Need When You Apply For a License
In order to obtain a license in the State of Arizona, you must show proof of identification and age. You must present two forms of ID from the primary and secondary lists; one document must have a photo. If you do not have one with a photo, you will need to provide three forms. One of the IDs must be from the primary list, and all forms must be originals or certified copies and be in English.
Driver License Testing
The Motor Vehicle Division is in charge of screening and testing all driver license applicants. This screening process helps to ensure that an applicant has the proper knowledge and skills to operate a vehicle on the roads of Arizona. You will be required to pass three tests to obtain an Arizona Driver License: a vision test, a written test, and a road skills test. If you are new to the state and have a valid driver license from another state, you will only be required to have your vision screened. The three tests are described below.
Vision Test - In order to meet the minimum vision standards, you must have uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in at least one eye. If you cannot meet these minimum standards without the use of glasses or corrective lenses, you will be given an "A" restriction on your license. An "A" restriction means you must wear corrective lenses or glasses at all times when driving.
Written Test - The written test will check your knowledge of basic driving skills, Arizona traffic laws, defensive driving techniques, and much of the material covered in this course. If you are unable to read English well enough to take the written test, you can make arrangements to have an oral exam. If you need an interpreter, you are required to provide one yourself.
Road Test - You are required to provide a properly registered, safe vehicle for this test. The vehicle must be equipped with seat belts and be in properly working order. The vehicle must also have proper insurance, current license plates, and tabs. Before you can take the road test, you must be able to show you can understand English language directions such as: stop, slow down, turn left, turn right, etc. An examiner will ride with you and give you instructions to follow. You will be observed and graded on your ability to safely operate the vehicle. The following skills will be observed and graded during the exam:
- Observation and planning
- Proper lane usage
- Parking, including parallel parking
- Proper signaling
- Stopping and starting
- Giving proper following distances
- Making a complete stop
- Yielding the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians
- Passing and being passed
- 3-point turn
- Compliance with traffic laws and regulations.
License Revocation or Cancellation
Your driving privileges can be canceled for any of the following reasons:
- If you failed to give the required or correct information in the application or committed fraud in making the application.
- If you apply for an Arizona license while your license is suspended, revoked or canceled in another state.
- If you falsely give your age as 21 or over.
- If you do not pay fees, taxes or assessments to the MVD.
- If you failed to respond to a request by the department to update your license.
The department shall revoke the license or driving privilege of an Arizona resident or the privilege of a nonresident to drive a motor vehicle in this state after receiving notice of a conviction of the person in another jurisdiction and after determining that the conviction was for an offense that if committed in this state would be grounds for revocation.
The department will immediately revoke your license if you are convicted of any of the following offenses:
- A homicide or aggravated assault resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
- Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence.
- A felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used.
- Theft of a motor vehicle or other means of transportation.
- Failing to stop and render aid when involved in a motor vehicle collision which results in death or injury of another.
- Perjury or the making of a false affidavit or statement under oath to the department.